Robert Rhumble's Story
In the 1970's the Pennants Branch Library Sub-Committee focused on bringing together a report of the stories of the local Senior Citizens about the 1920's onwards with a focus on the history of the Pennants, detailing the establishment of the Tennants Association, also known as the Poorman's Settlement Association, which was led by Robert Rhumble as Chair. This report has recently been 'rediscovered' and the amazing stories of the challenges made to the landowners of the Pennants make very moving reading and deserve much more research, to quote:
"There were very limited opportunities for employment, the very few who were capable of employing a wage earner did not see it quite necessary to start any project whether Agricultural or otherwise to use such a person. Thus the opportunities for procuring a livelihood were very limited and normally depended on either acquiring a holding or getting attached to a holding.
Naturally, conditions led to a genuine feeling of (in?)security among the residents. There were even instances when residents had to make their homes in trees - “Tree Dwellers”, they were rightly dubbed.
There is little wonder that these conditions drove the people to extremes of temporarily forgetting their petty differences and crystallized their determination to provide a unified front to better their plight. This front was provided by the formation of the Tenants Association or Poorman’s Settlement Association as it was once known by Robert Rhumble with the support of Miss Vie Beckford, Secretary, William Walters, Deputy Leader, Miss May Wilson and several others."
The author of the report (as yet un-named) states: "I would like to express my profound gratitude to all the Senior Citizens who were major source of my information. I am obliged to specially mention Mr. Robert Rhumble, the man who figured and even influenced those “stages”, for his invaluable first-hand knowledge that he has imparted to me."
The story Robert Rhumble tells gives details of strong and well handled resistance of local people, that deserves more retailed research. The role that Robert Rhumbles,took as Chairman of the Association, led to his imprisonment:
"The Association’s objective although bold was quite realistic- “To force the Colonial Government to accept the principle of Land Settlement for the small farmers("). In this they succeeded but not without a price, Robert Rhumble, leader was tried and convicted for his leading role in Association. The Association was active for a while before its legal registration as a representative group. Ironically, it was the Registration Fee of £3.00 sent later to the Colonial Secretary, that was used as evidence to convict its leader.
All correspondence between the Association and the British Parliament was done through British based Henty George Foundation and not through any Colonial Government agencies as might be expected. Among the members of the Foundation were several active British Parliamentarians."
"The year 1938 is remarkable in the history of both the Tenants Association and Pennants itself. In mid-1938 conditions came to a head and the Association organised a successful rent strike- a direct challenge to Pennlyn* himself." * there is possible confusion between the names 'Penrhyn' and 'Pennlyn' - as at this time is it seems from Welsh records that Lord Penrhyn was the estate owner.
The photos and the transcript of the original cyclostyled document, are enclosed below. The document was passed to Liz Mllman some years ago, and appears to be the only version known of currently. Deep gratitude to Miss Rob, for entrusting this document to Liz, who kept it safe with her most treasured possesions that are now in Australia!